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Hydrocodone Overdose

Hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic opioid that is prescribed for moderate to severe pain or as a cough suppressant.1 There are many generic versions of hydrocodone on the market; the most common generic brand is Lortab and before its discontinuation, Vicodin.1

Hydrocodone comes in tablet, capsule, and liquid forms and most hydrocodone that is purchased illegally has been diverted from the legal market.1 Hydrocodone is misused primarily because of the euphoric effects that can be felt when using the drug.1 Hydrocodone misuse is associated with tolerance, dependence, and addiction.1

In this article, you will learn more about the signs of hydrocodone overdose, what to do if someone is showing signs of a hydrocodone overdose, treatment programs for hydrocodone addiction, and how to find those programs.

Can You Overdose on Hydrocodone?

Yes, it is possible to intentionally or unintentionally overdose on hydrocodone.1 People use hydrocodone due to its opioid effects, which cause euphoria and pain relief; however, hydrocodone also causes respiratory depression and sedation, which can be fatal if too much hydrocodone is taken at once.1 Opioid misuse is associated with tolerance, dependence, and addiction, all of which increase the risk of overdose.1

Hydrocodone overdose is more likely to occur if:

  • You are misusing other drugs with hydrocodone.2
  • You are using someone else’s prescription.2
  • Hydrocodone was just initiated or increased.3
  • You misunderstand your prescription and take more than the prescribed dose.2

Taking hydrocodone with other central nervous system depressants, such as alcohol or benzodiazepines, increases the risk of accidental overdose and should be avoided.3 A person who has breathing problems such as asthma or COPD is also at a greater risk of accidental overdose due to the respiratory depression hydrocodone causes.3

Signs of Hydrocodone Overdose

If you or a loved one is misusing or addicted to hydrocodone, you could be at greater risk of an accidental overdose.4 Immediate attention should be given to anyone exhibiting signs of a hydrocodone overdose.4 Signs that someone may be overdosing on hydrocodone include:4

  • Very pale in the face and/or clammy when touched.
  • Vomiting or gurgling noises.
  • Sedation and inability to rouse.
  • Flaccid or limp body.
  • Blue lips or fingernails.
  • Slowed or stopped breathing.
  • Slowed or stopped heartbeat.

A person who has overdosed on hydrocodone will require medical attention to prevent death.4 If you notice any of these signs of overdose, call 911 immediately and begin basic life support, including clearing airways and providing oxygen until emergency medical professionals arrive.4 If Naloxone is readily available, it should be administered before calling 911.4

Treatment for Hydrocodone Overdose

Hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic opioid with opiate-like effects that are similar to morphine. At this time, Naloxone is the only FDA-approved treatment to reverse opioid overdose.1 Naloxone, the generic version of Narcan and Kloxxado,5 is an opioid antagonist that is used to rapidly reverse opioid overdose.2 Naloxone works by binding to the opioid receptors to both reverse and block the effects of opioids.2 Naloxone comes in a nasal spray or an injection that can be administered into the muscle, the vein, or under the skin.2

Naloxone may require a prescription in your state; however, some states sell Naloxone without a prescription.5 Public health departments or non-profit organizations may also distribute Naloxone for free.5 If you or a loved one is prescribed an opioid, you should request a prescription of Naloxone and tell friends or family members where you have placed it in case of an emergency.5

Naloxone, while a critical tool to prevent opioid overdose, is a temporary, emergency medication and is not a comprehensive treatment solution for hydrocodone overdose.2 The effects of Naloxone last between 30 and 90 minutes, so the person should be monitored for at least 2 hours or until medical professionals arrive.5 A person requiring Naloxone to reverse an overdose should seek medical attention as soon as possible to ensure that fatal levels of opioids are fully cleared from their system.2

Hydrocodone Addiction Treatment Programs

Hydrocodone use has increased among all age, ethnic, and economic groups and is now the second most commonly diverted opioid since 2009.1 Once a person has become dependent or addicted to hydrocodone, treatment becomes a part of sustained recovery.6 Hydrocodone addiction treatment usually requires multiple interventions at various levels of care for a sustained period.6

Hydrocodone addiction results in changes in the brain’s chemistry that can be present long after a person quits using the drug.6 The result of these changes in the brain is that a person may struggle with cravings, low-stress tolerance, and poor impulse control all of which make long-term recovery difficult without the right support.6 Research shows that active engagement in treatment over the span of several months results in the best outcomes for those struggling with addiction.6

There are various levels of care available to people seeking hydrocodone addiction treatment. Being admitted to a detox program and continuing on to addiction aftercare is recommended, as remaining engaged in treatment will reduce the risk of lapsing or relapsing.6 The levels of care available to people seeking treatment for hydrocodone addiction include:7

  • Medical detox: This is a process of clearing the body under medical supervision in a secure setting. Detox is considered the first step in the process of recovering from hydrocodone addiction.
  • Inpatient or residential treatment: This occurs in a structured therapeutic setting where you are monitored 24 hours a day. Each facility has different amenities, rules, and expectations but all will focus on helping you achieve sobriety and learn new skills for living a life in recovery.
  • Outpatient treatment: This could be low-intensity individual therapy and medication management, high-intensity partial hospital programs (PHP), or an intensive outpatient program (IOP).
  • Transitional housing: Some people who are in the process of recovery will require extra support once treatment is complete. Transitional housing includes sober living and halfway houses that allow people to live and work in a home that supports sobriety.

If you or a loved one is dealing with a hydrocodone addiction, it is important to speak with a professional who specializes in addiction. These professionals can assess you and your needs and recommend the best course of action for your personal journey to sobriety.

How to Find Hydrocodone Addiction Treatment

Beginning the search for treatment can be confusing as there are many facilities that approach treatment differently. The directory is a tool that can help you begin this search. With this tool, you can search in your state and look at what each facility offers. This tool can help you narrow down your choices before you reach out to different facilities to inquire about admission.

If you are wondering whether your health insurance provider will cover all or part of your substance use treatment, there are several options available to you. You can check your benefits using the insurance verification tool provided by You can also call or text our admissions navigators who can assist you with this process.

If you or a loved one are dealing with misuse or addiction to hydrocodone, help is just a text, phone call, or click away. Seeking treatment can be difficult, but there are people here to support you and help you take your life back. Call or visit our website today to begin the journey to your new life.

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